This cartoon was created by State Rep. Dwight Evans, drawn by Monna Morton.

The cartoon on this page - a new map of the Seventh Congressional District- was done by the entire state Legislature and unveiled just last week. It not only represents Rep. Patrick Meehan's newly drawn district, but a new standard for gerrymandering - drawing up districts designed to favor lawmakers instead of voters.

The 7th snakes its way through five counties and is a new poster child for why we must find a better way to do redistricting.

The state's process - which involved no public debate aside from hearings at the beginning of the process - was unveiled to the public just a few hours before it was put to a vote, and the House is expected to approve it today.

How bad was the state's redistricting exercise? So bad that Philadelphia's recent councilmanic redistricting process, by no means perfect, could be considered a model of public input. Council held public hearings - although none was held to respond to specific maps. We'd like to think that the public-redistricting contest that was run by local geospatial analysis firm Azavea, which gave citizens the tools to tackle redistricting on their own, established a higher standard for what is an acceptable process and outcome.

Azavea's efforts - being played out in states around the country - provides one of the few bright spots in the redistricting process because, by giving citizens software tools to see how redistricting is done, it demystifies the process, and proves that the wacky maps that elected bodies come up with are unecessary. It also often results in better maps.

The only other bright spot would be a widespread call for Pennsylvania to establish an independent redistricting commission, to take it out of the hands of elected officials - who have a massive conflict of interest in drawing these maps - and which would result in fairer, saner, districts.

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